Millvina Dean (February 2, 1912 – May 31, 2009) was the last living survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic which occurred on 15 April 1912. At nine weeks of age, she was the youngest passenger on board
Ill health and death of Millvina Dean
In December 2008, at the age of 96, Millvina Dean was forced to sell several of her family’s possessions to pay for her private medical care following a broken hip.
In response, the Millvina Fund was set up in May 2009 by the director and stars of the film Titanic, James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, who donated over £20,000 to support Dean with her bills. This fund was set up through a challenge by photographer Don Mullan, and matches one he set up through selling prints.
Dean died on 31 May 2009 at the age of 97, 98 years to the day after the Titanic was launched in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Millvina Dean’s biography continutes next page
Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean was born in London to Bertram Frank Dean and Georgette Eva Light. She had a brother, Bertram Vere Dean (1910–1992), and a great great great niece Khara Barnard who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dean never married and had no children.
Millvina’s parents decided to leave England and emigrate to Wichita, Kansas where her father had family living and where he hoped to open a tobacco shop. The Deans were not supposed to be aboard the Titanic, but owing to a coal strike, they were transferred to the ship and boarded it as third-class passengers at Southampton, England. Millvina was barely two months old when she boarded the ship. Her father felt the ship’s collision with the iceberg on the night of 14 April 1912, and after investigating, returned to his cabin telling his wife to dress the children and go up on deck. Millvina, her mother, and brother were placed in Lifeboat 10 and were among the first steerage passengers to escape the sinking liner. Her father, however, did not survive, and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
Return to England
At first, Millvina’s mother wanted to continue on to Kansas to fulfil her husband’s wish of a new life in the United States. However, after losing her husband and being left with two small children for whom to care, they returned to England aboard the RMS Adriatic. While aboard the ship, Millvina understandably attracted considerable attention. An article in the Daily Mirror newspaper dated 12 May 1912 described the ordeal:
She was the pet of the liner during the voyage, and so keen was the rivalry between women to nurse this lovable mite of humanity that one of the officers decreed that first and second class passengers might hold her in turn for no more than ten minutes.
Dean’s mother died on 16 September 1975, aged 96, and her brother, Bertram, died, aged 81, on 14 April 1992, 80 years to the day after the Titanic struck the iceberg.
It was not until Millvina was in her seventies that she became involved in Titanic-related events. Over the years, she participated in numerous conventions, exhibitions, documentaries, television and radio interviews, and personal correspondence. In 1998, Millvina traveled to the United States to participate in a Titanic convention in Springfield, Massachusetts, and another in 1999 in Montreal. She had also been scheduled to appear at a commemoration of the Titanic’s 94th anniversary in 2006, but a broken hip prevented her appearance.
In October 2007, she became the last-living Titanic survivor following the death of Barbara West Dainton, who died at the age of 96 in England.